Welcome to the latest album by album challenge! For those that are new here, the “Album by Album Challenge” is where I take a band’s entire discography and listen to every album in order of release from front to back. With my unforgiving and well-aged ear, I call it how I hear it. In some cases, I find that what I once thought was good is actually pretty crappy and sometimes crap manages to age into something pretty kick ass. And in some cases, face melting is still just good ol’ face melting.
This time around I give to you the discography of the Scorpions. When I first heard the Scorpions as a young metal head in 1983 or ’84 I had no idea that this band already had a vast 11 year history under its belt. Doing this challenge was a really exciting one for me and I learned so much about a band that I loved but only knew a small bit about. In this first part I covered the band’s 1972 debut Lonesome Crow and then wrapped it up with the band’s signature hit album, Love at First Sting. This was a really fun and interesting challenge and I hope you all dig this one. Part II will follow soon.
Release Date: February 1972
The Good: I’m Goin’ Mad, It All Depends, Leave Me, In Search of Peace of Mind, Inheritance, Lonesome Crow
This is definitely NOT the Scorpions that I cut my teeth on as a young, fledgling metalhead and you know what? I’m totally fucking ok with that. Goddamn! Lonesome Crow is fucking epic. It’s nearly hard for me to believe that this is the same band that would later sing “Tease Me, Please Me” but you just can’t deny the signature sound of the voice of Klaus Meine. That voice hasn’t changed a bit.
I’ll be honest, I absolutely loved hearing these songs and I’m already excited to hear more of this shit. “I’m Going Mad” is a psychedelic kraut rock masterpiece while “Leave Me” sounds like it could’ve been on the first Captain Beyond album. The guitar playing of Michael Schenker is absolutely mesmerizing throughout this album and there isn’t a single bad song on this one. I’m really eager to hear where the metamorphosis began for them but for now, I absolutely love this stuff.
Fly to the Rainbow
Release Date: November 1974
The Good: Speedy’s Coming, They Need a Million, Drifting Sun, Fly People Fly, This is My Song, Far Away, Fly to the Rainbow
Wow. Right off the bat on “Speedy’s Coming” you can hear a huge change in the Scorpions sound. The addition of Uli Jon Roth on guitar really took the Scorpions into a more hard rock sound than what we heard on Lonesome Crow. This album is definitely more rough around the edge and I can hear the voice that Meine would use pretty much from here on out. I have never heard this album so I’m shocked that they started to sound like this so early on. “They Need a Million” is without a doubt where I feel like Kadavar may have found a lot of influence but the showstopper for me was “Far Away.” That voice… good God man.
Fly to the Rainbow is definitely a shift of the gears for the Scorpions. This is a much heavier, grittier, edgier, and dirtier sound that what they started out with. It sounds less refined yet there is still a lot of heart and fire in these songs. They sound like a hungry band that is just out to make the best music that they could make and they were definitely on their way to becoming a definitive and very important band in shaping the hard rock/metal sound of the later years.
Release Date: September 17, 1975
The Good: Dark Lady, In Trance, Life’s Like a River, Top of the Hill, Living and Dying, Robot Man, Evening Wind, Sun in My Hand, Longing for Fire, Night Lights
There is something really magical about this album. The only song I was really familiar with before listening to this one was the title track so listening to this album was like opening a Christmas present. What an amazing surprise these first few albums were. “Dark Lady” is an absolutely mesmerizing way to kick things off and “In Trance” was so fucking good that it got a repeat listen. I really loved this one and I also feel like this is where things are starting to steadily shift a bit. “Living and Dying” is a real hint as to where they were going as this sounded more like the sound that they would become famous for.
While this album is definitely taking them into a new direction, there’s still some weird in there with “Robot Man” which, while awesome, definitely caught me off guard a bit. All in all, In Trance is a fucking spectacular album. The Scorpions really seemed to be gelling on this album and they also seemed to start to change their focus a bit which I loved hearing. It’s so fun to hear three very distinct albums from the same band as progression from album to album really kept me on my toes.
Release Date: November 21, 1976
The Good: Pictured Life, Catch Your Train, In Your Park, Backstage Queen, Virgin Killer, Hell Cat,
For some reason, this album didn’t seem to capture me like the previous ones did but with that being said, there are a lot of fucking great songs on this album. “Backstage Queen” definitely sounds more like the Scorpions that I would come to love in the 80’s but again, there’s still some weird to it. “Hell Cat” is definitely one of the weirdest fucking songs I’ve heard them do yet but I love that it seems to just break shit up a little bit. Uli’s vocals are a fucking trip as always and this song definitely shifted the gears a good bit. “Crying Days” is without a doubt the showstopper here. What a fucking incredible song. I hear so many influential moments here.
Virgin Killer is a great fucking album. It’s a bit weird and sometimes disjointed but oddly enough it all works. Normally, an album like this would bug me but the Scorpions have this way of making you expect the unexpected and this album is definitely a roller coaster ride of sorts. This is also probably one of those albums that takes a few spins to really sink in. This is definitely an album that I will be re-visiting.
Taken by Force
Release Date: December 4, 1977
The Good: Steamrock Fever, We’ll Burn the Sky, I’ve Got to Be Free, The Riot of Your Time, The Sails of Charon, He’s a Woman – She’s a Man, Born to Touch Your Feelings
“Steamrock Fever” kicks shit off with the continuous sound of a jackhammer throughout this song. Would this make it the first “industrial” song? Not sure. This song fucking rules but that goddamn effect throughout the song is just enough to make me go postal. This is also the first album to feature drummer Herman Rarebell so his sound is definitely a shift into a more heavy, hard rock direction that before. Even though the album definitely sounds more and more like the Scorpions we would all hear in the 80’s, there’s still a level of eclecticism with the constantly innovative playing of Uli Jon Roth.
“The Riot of Your Time” is a song that I would absolutely love to hear the Scorps bring into a live set sometime as this song is so fucking great. “The Sails of Charon.” Holy fucking melt my face. How have I never heard this song? A lot of people call this song the show stopper but honestly I found “Your Light” to be the one that really stopped me in my tracks. What a unique fucking song. “Born to Touch Your Feelings” also sounds like it could be the song that forged the mold for all future Scorpions ballads to follow. Taken By Force is a pretty majestic fucking album and at this point is probably my favorite one. This is a really unique album and one that I can find myself listening to many more times over.
Release Date: February 25, 1979
The Good: Loving You Sunday Morning, Another Piece of Meat, Always Somewhere, Can’t Get Enough, Is There Anybody There?, Lovedrive, Holiday
The Indifferent: Coast to Coast,
This is where the metamorphosis was completed. With Matthias Jabbs now on guitar, the recipe for their future success and future sound was complete. “Loving You Sunday Morning” and “Holiday” are both songs that would become huge staples of the Scorpions’ live repertoire. “Coast to Coast” just sounds like a song without lyrics which is unfortunate because it could have been a pretty fantastic song. I also love that this album still has a little bit of weirdness to it with the reggae stylings of “Is There Anybody There?” I also dug the Zepplin-esque “Lovedrive.” Kind of reminded me of “Achilles Last Stand” in the beginning but I dug it.
Lovedrive was a fun listen but I couldn’t help couldn’t help but feel that this is where the band started to really dumb things down a bit in order to find some sort of appeal with the steadily growing fanbase of heavy metal music. Don’t get me wrong, I dug it but I can totally hear that this album was indeed the catalyst for the style of music we would hear from the Scorpions for many years to come.
Release Date: March 31, 1980
The Good: Make it Real, Don’t Make No Promises, Hold Me Tight, Lady Starlight, Falling in Love, Only a Man, The Zoo, Animal Magnetism
The Indifferent: Twentieth Century Man,
This album was a bit weird for me to be honest. It’s like, I dug it but the 4th song it started to sound kind of forgettable to me. Well, that all changed with “Lady Starlight”. How has that song not ended up being an all time Scorpions hit? That song is absolutely stunning and without a doubt the show stopper on this album. What a great fucking song that is. “Falling in Love” was also a really great, catchy song and “Only a Man” seemed to kind of hint at the subtle weirdness of the next song, “The Zoo.” That is one of the weirdest songs ever but such a great fucking song and another staple in the Scorps live performances.
Animal Magnetism started out a bit on the fluffy side but it definitely seemed to evolve into something really fucking spectacular. This definitely has me wanting to go back and listen to the album from the start again just to see if maybe that first part of the album is more of a grower. If anything, this album’s last 4 or 5 songs alone make this album worthy of owning and jamming on a regular basis.
Release Date: April 10, 1982
The Good: Blackout, Can’t Live Without You, No One Like You, You Give Me All I Need, Now, Dynamite, Arizona, China White, When The Smoke is Going Down
How many times did you imitate this album cover with your friends by taking two forks and covering your eyes with them while making a “scream” face? I can’t be the only one that ever did that. Well, maybe I could but that’s beside the point. I can totally see why Blackout was such a huge album for them. This album is so fucking great. Kicking ass right out the gates with “Blackout” and Can’t Live Without You” totally sets the tone for where this album goes. “You Give Me All I Need” is another fucking stellar song and then we also have the huge hit, “No One Like You” which never gets old.
Believe it or not, this was an album that I never heard in its entirety until this challenge and this one is definitely worthy of the hype. What a remarkable album. I also love how the Scorps are able to balance total face rockers along with such gorgeous ballads like “When the Smoke is Going Down.” That song was without a doubt the show stopper for me and what a way to close an album out. It’s like a cigarette after a nice long “love fest” or something. I also have to wonder if maybe Queensryche pulled their idea of closing Empire with “Anybody Listening?” from this album. There’s something about closing an album with a slow burning song that makes you want more. This album is the shit from start to finish.
Love at First Sting
Release Date: May 4, 1984
The Good: Bad Boys Running Wild, Rock You Like a Hurricane, I’m Leaving You, Coming Home, The Same Thrill, Big City Nights, As Soon as the Good Times Roll, Crossfire, Still Loving You
Holy hell. Talk about a fucking massive album. Again, the Scorpions put out an album that is worthy of any and all praise that it gets. This was such a quintessential 80’s metal album and from start to finish it’s no wonder why. This album kicks off with “Bad Boys Running Wild” which always fucking rules and no matter how over played it might be, that riff from “Rock You Like a Hurricane” is so fucking badass. “The Same Thrill” is a song that I always glazed over but damn what a fucking facemelt. Jabbs’ guitar playing on this song is absolutely stratospheric. “Big City Nights” is yet another timeless classic but the real show stopper for me is the closing track, “Still Loving You.” What a monumental song.
Love at First Sting is such a classic, pinnacle album that everyone should own. This was pretty much the blueprint for great 80’s era hard rock/metal and it sounds just as good if not better all these years later. I love that while the production is so great there is still a kind of rawness to it. The fire and the energy of this band really come through on this album and they also did something that many bands strive for and fail at and that’s capturing that live energy on tape. The Scorps knocked it out of the park with this one.